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(40:33; Steve Bonino)
Prior to 2018’s superb ‘Stargazer’ album (which has already been followed up by ‘Stargazer 2’ – what do you mean you haven’t got it yet?), this 2016 release was Steve’s most recent solo album, although he had been heavily involved with other bands (including with the wonderful Peter Matuchniak). Again the album is just Steve, apart from Jimmy Keegan dropping in to provide drums on one song. Part of me says, that when playing this for the very first time the listener should listen to the last song first, as “Hard and Fast” is a wonderful tongue in cheek pisstake of what thrash metal would sound like if it was being provided by a pop prog rock artist (wait, hang on a minute…) but why bypass all the other great songs? “Blood Bullet Playground” never seemed more poignant than it does this week, less than 7 days on from the Christchurch attack. Downtuned, with an emotional Korn feel, it drives me to a dark place with a strong emotional, almost visceral response to the words and music. It demonstrates just how much of a complete artist Steve is, as while much of his music is poppy, rocky and with a great deal of fun, this is far more serious. “Will we never, ever learn. The next child could be your own” – my youngest daughter lives just a mile or so from the mosque, and I used to work around the corner. Steve takes on yet another approach with “Obsidian”, with layered vocals and percussive approach which again is very different to anything else on the album, far more progressive and spacelike. It is the sheer variety of material which makes this album again such a delight. I can see I am going to have to seek out the rest of Steve’s bands, as everything I have heard from him has been simply superb. Get the ‘Stargazer’ albums, but don’t forget Steve’s back catalogue – you won’t regret it.
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